ACS CAN Calls Proposed Tobacco Tax Increases a Missed Opportunity for Public Health

Connecticut Legislature Should Focus Efforts on Boosting Tobacco Control Efforts in State

August 29, 2017

Hartford, CT  – The following statement can be attributed to Bryte Johnson, director of government relations in Connecticut for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

“The proposed tobacco tax increases included in the latest House Democratic budget plan will have little to no positive impact on public health. Small increases are much more likely to be offset by tobacco industry marketing dollars. Currently Big Tobacco spends $78 million annually in Connecticut on marketing alone, compared to the $0 dollars spent by the state for tobacco control.

“Despite Connecticut receiving hundreds of millions in annual tobacco tax revenue as well as over $100 million per year from the Master Settlement Agreement with Big Tobacco—payments that were intended to help offset the massive health care costs as a result of tobacco use—the state hasn’t budgeted a penny towards non-Medicaid tobacco control programs since 2015. While some funding was due to be restored in Fiscal Year ’18, this recent proposal once again eliminates it. Our kids are worth more than zero!

“The need for tobacco control funding is critical. Studies and best practices in states across the country clearly show that regular, significant increases in the price of tobacco products along with robust tobacco control programs and strong smoke-free laws are the only truly effective ways to achieve much needed reductions in youth and adult tobacco use rates and associated health care expenses—saving lives and money.

“Tragically, 4,900 adults will die in Connecticut from smoking this year while 1,500 kids will become smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Public Health. That’s 13 deaths a day at a cost of $230,000 dollars every hour, every day for a tragedy that is entirely preventable yet the response from our state government is to do nothing. 

“This latest budget proposal is a missed opportunity to save lives and protect public health. To not fund tobacco control efforts despite the impact the deadly, addictive products have on the people of Connecticut is shameful.”

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Michelle Zimmerman
Senior Specialist, Division Media Advocacy